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Google courts business customers with new products

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc is stepping up efforts to infuse its search engine into the operations of the most technically sophisticated corporations as well as the least digitally savvy businesses.

The Internet search giant unveiled a pair of new products on Tuesday aimed at large corporations with strict technology requirements and at small businesses that may not even have Web sites, respectively.

The move comes as Google's growth slows from its previous double-digit percentage levels, amid a challenging economic environment and a sharp industry-wide slowdown in the advertising spending that it depends on.

Google's latest version of its Search Appliance, first introduced in 2001, takes aim at the high-end of the market.

The sleek yellow boxes, based on hardware from Dell Inc and Intel Corp, come loaded with Google software and allow companies to harness Google's search capabilities to cull through their own internal documents.

Instead of the three separate models of the appliance it previously offered, Google will now sell two boxes: the GB 7007, which can index between 500,000 and 10 million documents, and the GB 9009, which can index 30 million documents.

More importantly, customers can now string together multiple appliances so, for instance, an index of 1 billion company documents can be quickly searched by a company's employees.

New security and customization features mean that different departments within a company can link their appliances, giving certain users -- say those with a higher security clearance at a federal agency -- access to a broader set of search results than would have been presented to others.

The goal is to make search the "unifying glue" across an organization's various departments, said Nitin Mangtani, Google's senior product manager for enterprise search.

Mangtani said the entry-level 7007 model costs $30,000, including two years of support. Google does not disclose pricing on the 9009 model but notes that the price is less than the 7007 on a price-per-document basis.

STRUGGLING TO SERVE

Sanford Bernstein analyst Jeff Lindsay said Google has struggled serving enterprise customers, who tend to be more demanding than the consumers that Google is accustomed to building products for.

But he expects Google to make a renewed push to boost its business with corporations this year.

Lindsay estimates that Google's enterprise business will generate $240 million in sales this year, with the majority from enterprise applications like corporate gmail, rather than the search appliance -- a small fraction of the $22.7 billion in total revenue that analysts expect Google to record.

In a separate product launch on Tuesday, Google introduced a new "dashboard" for its core search site that provides local businesses with information about Web searches relating to their companies.

source : reuters.com

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